$250 million awarded for emergency road and bridge projects

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Mississippi Department of Transportation crew members close a bridge last year on Springridge Road in Raymond, Miss.

The Mississippi Transportation Commission announced Tuesday which projects will receive funds designated for emergency road and bridge repair during the last special session.

The $250 million announced last August will go towards 163 projects around the state. The Mississippi Department of Transportation will receive $16 million for repairs on Interstate 20. MDOT will also get about $8 million for maintenance on Highway 51.

“The fund that the legislature secured during the special legislative session last year for emergency road and bridge replacement is being put to work,” Speaker Philip Gunn said in a statement.  “ … I commend them on acting quickly and look forward to seeing the work begin.”

Cities and counties applied for money through Mississippi Transportation Commission, which prioritized bridge or road deficiencies that impeded safety, economic vitality, or mobility. Forrest and Jackson counties will receive the most funding for their projects — $16 million and $14 million, respectively — despite both counties having relatively few closed bridges (7 between them) compared to other places in the state, according to data from the Office of State Aid Road Construction.

Washington County, where the most closed bridges are (31), will receive $4 million. Hinds County, which has the second most closed bridges (28), garnered $1.6 million, and the cities of Jackson and Clinton each separately will receive another million dollars in support.

Jackson County Supervisor Barry Cumbest said he was thrilled by the news. The county plans to replace two bridges on Wade-Vancleave Road that Cumbest said were both built int the 1950s.

“The bridges have been in service for a long, long time and they were going,” Cumbest said. “We were going to have to shut the roads down probably within a year or two if we didn’t get the funding.”

The award includes nearly $12 million to fix a bridge over the Pascagoula River that’s over 1,200 feet long and 100 feet high. The Federal Highway Administration scores bridges from 0-100, 100 being the best, each year; that bridge received a 38 in its last inspection, Cumbest said. About 2,500 cars, including school buses, use the Wade-Vancleave Road each day.

Cumbest said he doesn’t know yet when the county will receive the funds, but that once they do they’ll take bids from contractors and lay out how long the bridge replacement will take.

Forrest County will receive $15 million for repairs on East Hardy Street.

Read here for the full list of projects receiving funds.